January 30, 2020

An employee has sued their former bank for issues around an ageism allegation and managed to win £9.7m in compensation.

The banker who was formerly employed by Citibank claims that he was pushed out of his position and pushed out of the company he has worked for because he was considered too old.

The court agreed with his version of events and decided he was owed compensation money for his experience.

It was decided that Niels Kirk was a victim of ageism at the bank and the claim he had lodged for unfair dismissal was upheld at a tribunal relating to the case.

He was aged 55 when he was made redundant by Citibank.

The dismissal took place at a meeting and Kirk claims there was no prior warning or suggestion made to him that he was facing redundancy for any reason whatsoever.

At the time of the dismissal Kirk had been working for Citibank for a total of 26 years and the bank, it was told at the tribunal, was “institutionally ageist.''

It was claimed that Kirk’s boss, Manolo Falco had told Kirk that he was “old and set in your ways”. 

These remarks are what helped Kirk’s case succeed at tribunal and the employment judge overseeing the case said that the remarks proved unwarranted conducts, adding: “It upset and angered the claimant.

He complained about the remark subsequently. It was a negative, age-specific remark and clearly related to his age.”

Mr Kirk was chair of the bank’s Africa, Middle East and Europe energy and resources group, which at the time was based in Canary Wharf in London.

Mr Falco always denied making those remarks to Mr Kirk upon his dismissal but the employment judge, Judge Goodrich, ruled against him and found the bank culpable.

When Mr Falco sacked Mr Kirk, Ms Marie-Christine Olive was hired as his replacement.

She was previously global head of commodities and just four years younger than Mr Kirk.

Judge Goodrich said of this decision: “It was humiliating and insulting for the claimant to be told that he was old and set in his ways as part of the justification for favouring Ms Olive.”

And that this is one of the reasons why the case went in Mr Kirk’s favour.

Citbank say they’re going to appeal the decision and that their decision to fire Mr Kirk was justified.

They even pointed to the fact that most directors in corporate banking were under the age of 50 and that Ms Olive was only slightly younger but that the small age gap between the two was nonetheless significant and that she was seen as a more agile candidate.

They’ll be hoping that their appeal can be one on those grounds despite the harsh words of Judge Goodrich at the tribunal hearing.

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About the author 

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners and regularly writes articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law. Outside of the office, James is a keen Cricketer, playing in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves going to watch his football team, Crewe Alexandra. Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.

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